I literally have no idea what I’m doing. My current parenting goal is to prevent my sons from coming home from school when they are teenagers and when I ask how their day was they grunt and head into their room and the next thing I hear from behind their closed bedroom door is heavy metal. I know, it’s good to have goals. Especially such lofty ones.
But seriously, I have no idea what I’m doing. I want them to be happy and feel secure and also teach them to be responsible and kind and generous and blah blah blah. But, and I’ll say it the third time because it’s been proven that things in threes work out somehow (check out the Holy Trinity or if that’s not your thing, the Three Stooges) I have no idea what I’m doing.
And who amongst us does? Parenting experts? Depends on what their expertise says. And P.S. To quote a parent, “Everyone’s a parenting expert, until you have kids!” It’s like that Jillian Michaels writing a book on how to get your body back after having a baby – and um, y’all, she never had a baby. Her wife had the baby. And I’m not saying it’s not a fabulous book or workout program or whatever. I simply prefer to hear from a woman who had to actually “get her body back” and I don’t even know that I agree with all that, but I digress.
Pretending to know what’s best for the children, or how to help them properly and age appropriately navigate life’s challenges, is a total crap shoot and I don’t care who you are. There will be a Sunday night when I have nailed the weekend, and I mean killed it. I mommed the shit out of the weekend. Everyone had all the right uniforms and plenty of snacks and got enough rest, got along splendidly, we ate at the table all together Sunday night and the children are clean and tucked happily into their beds, and I’m like – yeah I could write one of those parenting books. Then, for some unknown reason, perhaps it’s because his sock wrinkled up the wrong way during the night or the planets decided to realign whilst we all slept, but the older wakes up on Monday and hates EVERYONE – but mostly his little brother and no one will get dressed or put on their shoes or brush their teeth and now we’re running late and I end up yelling, “Why do I always have to yell to get things done? Why can’t y’all do it the first 5 times when I ask nicely?!?!” Then the car ride to school is silent and I remember I actually, yes you guessed it, have no idea what I’m doing.
Let’s just put all the cards on the table here. No matter what parenting “philosophy” we subscribe to, we’re still just winging it. Sometimes we know for sure we aren’t doing something the way our parents did – because it was traumatizing or just felt wrong. Sometimes we take a page from our parents’ book and model a certain parenting behavior around theirs. But even then, they were winging it. For several generations parenting wasn’t a verb as we treat it now. Kids were had, they were fed and clothed and bathed and maybe they played sports in school, maybe they took band, but they certainly weren’t “built” with a specific brand of parenting involved.
I’m happy that we are all so invested in how our kids are doing and if we’re parenting “right.” It’s terrifying to know that a good portion of the child’s college savings may have to go into the pocket of a therapist, but hey, that’s a reality I’ve resigned myself to. I have a good friend who has a magnet on her refrigerator that reads, You aren’t managing an inconvenience. You’re raising a human being. That seems about right to me. She also happens to have one that reads, Parenting: When screwing up your own life just isn’t enough. And that’s it – both of them. Because while it’s a really important “job” it’s also a total rodeo where you’re not the cowboy nor the bull, but the rodeo clown whose job it is to make sure the bull doesn’t gore the cowboy while risking being gored yourself.
We have to laugh at ourselves because we’d cry our eyes out if we didn’t. That’s what I’m getting printed on a magnet for my fridge. I’ll put it next to the one gifted to me several years ago: Choosy moms choose beer. And I’ll try to remember to laugh every day both at myself and with the boys.
As far as the heavy metal goes, maybe I can learn to love it and we can listen together and talk about the lyrics? No, never mind that’s a terrible idea. As a mom I reserve the right to hate heavy metal and as teenage boys they reserve the right to their angsty teen years. Ugh. Let me go find my kerchiefs so I’m more attractive to the bull.